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It’s Not Your HIV Status That Scares Me, It’s You!

Updated on January 22, 2008

In the most recent Advocate magazine (January 29, 2008 issue 1001) a reporter follows three HIV positive men for a few weeks before Thanksgiving to help us better understand how those living with the disease are doing in this day and age with the new medicines, etc. Now before I begin my tirade (and I assure you one is coming) I feel the need to say that some may think that whatever these men do is their business and the rest of us have no right to pass judgment. Well obviously I disagree. When you go public with your story then the rest of us are allowed to weigh in. Though many are still scared to be around HIV positive people they're wrong but so are some of these men. It's not your HIV status that scares me, it's you! - Don't Get Me Started!

The first man they profile is a guy named Adam who is working at a Virginia AIDS/HIV Services Group where according to the article he'll soon be counseling HIV-positive drug users. He talks about how crystal meth led to unprotected sex and that he is now tapering down his drug use. Um...excuse me? Did you say "tapering down" your drug use not stopping it? And then there's his HIV partner whom he's been dating for the past year and although reports tell us that if you are HIV and you have unprotected sex with someone who also has HIV, you could give one another different strains of the disease causing complications for yourself or your partner big time these two have unprotected sex. He's quoted as saying, "My doctor will shoot me when I say this but we sort of leave it up to luck." Lest you think it's all "unsafe" behavior, they do have a rule that his partner can't ejaculate inside him. Oh, now I feel better - NOT! Adam admits toward the end of the article that he's thinking he needs to not be doing drugs while he's counseling drug addicts but that's about the most sense he makes.

On to Charles who attends the Center for Disease Control's National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta but who is not taking his twice a day medication, Atripla on a regular basis. The reason he gives for not taking his medication is as he says, "I think it's almost denial of sickness. I don't feel bad, so why do I have to take these pills every day?" Um, because you're HIV-positive? He also claims that depression could have something to do with him not taking medication. Depression or just stupidity, you decide.

Finally there's Nicholas, who is 40 (unlike the other two in their late twenties). He was a hairdresser but had to stop due to related illnesses. Now after three years of not working steadily, he's back in a salon as the receptionist and he's feeling better about himself and life in general. Good for you, Nicholas.

I appreciate the candor all three of these men exhibited by sharing their stories but come on, it's like the old fairy tale of The Three Little Pigs, only one of these guys is building their house of bricks here so how bad can you feel for them? (And of course I need to point out that it's the forty-something gay who has the sense.)

Sure, I don't have any idea what they're going through as I'm not HIV-positive but I've lost friends to this disease. Friends who didn't have the opportunity of the advanced medications they've come up with now that this bunch just can't remember or get motivated to take. Angry? You bet I'm angry. How dare they take the lives of others so cavalierly in their hands by having unprotected sex? How dare they not be grateful or understand the advantages that they have that will most likely allow them to live with dignity and quality with the disease much longer than many before them had the opportunity to do.

Am I wrong to feel that a couple of these guys are just selfish? Is it just my Jewish guilt talking that I would want to live as healthy and as long as possible for those who love me? Or do these men not feel loved enough or have strong enough self-esteem to want to stay and be healthy? I don't know if I should pity these men or be angry with them. I just know I'm scared because there are many more out there (more than we know probably) with similar stories. It's not your HIV status that scares me, it's you! - Don't Get Me Started!

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    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 7 years ago from Las Vegas

      AHS - The stupidity of people never ceases to amaze me but more than that I think it's the fear that drives people to stupid behaviors. Fear someone will leave them, not like them, etc. when all the while like you stated they should be thinking that perhaps it's the other person that isn't good enough for them! Thanks for the comments!

    • ahostagesituation profile image

      SJ 7 years ago

      I've said this before, I'm not scared of HIV, I'm scared of stupid. Had a patient, pretty Pollyanna of a girl with HIV who had decided this was a secret she wanted to keep from her then boyfriend. They'd just had a child on our ward, and when we had to treat the baby prophylacticly for HIV she had the nurses tell the father they were giving the baby vitamins. Idiot. What if he was cheating on her? Then some poor, unsuspecting home-wrecker might be exposed also. Lots of advancement in the treatment of HIV, no advancement in the treatment of stupidity.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 9 years ago from Las Vegas

      What is it they say? "Do what you know!"

    • teeray profile image

      teeray 9 years ago from Canada

      Excellent Tirade!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      I'm not sure these men understand just what it was like before you could live with HIV, when it wasn't possible to live with dignity and quality because the disease stripped away all of that. Finding out you are HIV+ is probably a difficult thing to accept, but there comes a point when you have to start acting responsibly.

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 9 years ago from middle of France

      Dead right. But I guess guys like the two younger ones would have applied the same attitudes to whatever came along - not just HIV (witness the counsellor still on drugs). Unfortunately, they will remain in circulation long enough to do quite a lot of damage.